UC Davis medical students participate in health screenings at State Capitol event
Posted Sept. 1, 2010
California's State Capitol building can be a high-pressure place at times, especially during the late summer when a state budget remains unresolved. Fortunately, some of that workplace stress got careful attention from UC Davis School of Medicine students last week when they participated in a health fair sponsored by the Black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander legislative caucuses.
Led by Darin Latimore, director of medical student diversity, approximately a dozen first-year students, as well as several second-year and undergraduate students, provided free health screenings near the Capitol's north steps. The health fair followed an informational legislative hearing on diabetes and obesity. Students provided screening tests for blood-sugar levels, body weight and blood pressure, all of which attracted crowds throughout a sweltering afternoon.
"People seemed very interested and liked being approached to participate in the screenings," said Maria Alvarado, a first-year student who was taking part in her first community outreach event. She added that along with legislative staffers, she and her colleagues also provided testing for several uninsured participants who had not been seen by a primary-care physician for a long time.
Latimore, who also serves as associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program, was eager to participate at the Capitol event because it helped introduce students to both community engagement and advocacy. He noted that some of the students had never had the opportunity to visit California's state house.
"Advancing health often starts on the steps of the Capitol, which is why it was so appropriate for us to be there."
— Darin Latimore
"No other UC campus is as well-positioned as we are to advocate on behalf of patients and health," said Latimore, who pointed to the school's location in California's capital city as being an advantage and opportunity. "We're training the next generation of physician leaders. Our students can become a voice for underserved communities because as physicians they will be in a position to speak for those who otherwise might not be heard."
Advocacy in government, added Latimore, can be just as important as caring for patients. Helping shape health-care policies includes legislative visits and being at the table for those discussions.
"We [physicians] have an expertise about health and health care that others don't always posses," said Latimore. "Advancing health often starts on the steps of the Capitol, which is why it was so appropriate for us to be there. It's an important addition to a physician's overall training experience."